Index of all articles, click here

Classification of wine

The classification of wine can be done according to various methods including, but not limited to, place of origin or appellation,[1] vinification methods and style,[2] sweetness and vintage,[3] or varietal[1] used. Practices vary in different countries and regions of origin, and many practices have varied over time. Some classifications enjoy official protection by being part of the wine law in their country of origin, while other have been created by, for example, grower's organizations without such protection.

By appellation

Historically, wines have been known by names reflecting their origin, and sometimes style: Bordeaux, Rioja, Mosel and Chianti are all legally defined names reflecting the traditional wines produced in the named region. These naming conventions or "appellations" (as they are known in France) dictate not only where the grapes in a wine were grown but also which grapes went into the wine and how they were vinified. The appellation system is strongest in the European Union, but a related system, the American Viticultural Area, restricts the use of certain regional labels in America, such as Napa Valley, Santa Barbara and Willamette Valley. The AVA designations do not restrict the type of grape used.[4]

In most of the world, wine labeled Champagne must be made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France and fermented using a certain method, based on the international trademark agreements included in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. However, in the United States, a legal definition called semi-generic has enabled U.S. winemakers to use certain generic terms (Champagne, Hock, Sherry, etc.) if there appears next to the term the actual appellation of origin.[5]

More recently, wine regions in countries with less stringent location protection laws such as the United States and Australia have joined with well-known European wine producing regions to sign the Napa Declaration to Protect Wine Place and Origin, commonly known as the Napa Declaration on Place. This is a "declaration of joint principles stating the importance of location to wine and the need to protect place names".[6] The Declaration was signed in July 2005 by four United States winegrowing regions and three European Union winegrowing regions.

The signatory regions from the US were Napa Valley, Washington, Oregon and Walla Walla, while the signatory regions from the EU were: Champagne, Cognac (the commune where Cognac is produced), Douro (the region where Port wine is produced) and Jerez (the region where Sherry is produced).

The list of signatories to the agreement expanded in March 2007 when Sonoma County, Paso Robles, Chianti Classico, Tokay, Victoria, Australia and Western Australia signed the Declaration at a ceremony in Washington,DC.

Regional wine classifications
Many regional wine classifications exist as part of tradition or appellation law. The most common of these is based on vineyard sites and include the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, though some regions classify their wines based on the style like the German wine classification system. Vineyard classification has a long history dating from some early examples in Jurançon in the 14th century, in 1644 when the council of Würzburg ranked the city's vineyards by quality,and the early five-level designation of vineyards based on quality in Tokaj-Hegyalja in 1700.[7]

Other well known classifications include:

  • Classification of Saint-Émilion wine of Bordeaux

  • Classification of Graves wine of Bordeaux

  • Cru Bourgeois of Bordeaux (Médoc)

  • Classified estates of Provence

    The follow regions are classified by vineyards, not estate.

  • Grand cru of Burgundy and Alsace


    1. a b "Wine Classification".

    2. M. Ewing-Mulligan & E. McCarthy Wine Style: Using Your Senses To Explore And Enjoy Wine Introduction Wiley Publishing 2005 ISBN 0-7645-4453-5

    3. J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition pg 752 & 753 Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0-19-860990-6

    4. Title 27 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §4.25

    5. Title 27 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §4.24

    6. http://www.wineorigins.com/page.cfm?pageID=28 Napa Declaration to Protect Wine Place and Origin (press release, Napa Valley Vintners)

    7. J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition, p. 175 Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0-19-860990-6, classification

    8. K. MacNeil The Wine Bible pg 170 Workman Publishing 2001 ISBN 1-56305-434-5

    9. winepros.com.au. The Oxford Companion to Wine. "champagne method".

    10. "Freedictionary.com".

    11. K. MacNeil The Wine Bible pg 488 Workman Publishing 2001 ISBN 1-56305-434-5

    12. K. MacNeil The Wine Bible pg 87 Workman Publishing 2001 ISBN 1-56305-434-5

    13. Cooking Whith Sherry. By Lalo Grosso, edited by Diputación de Cádiz in 2002. ISBN 978-84-95388-54-4

    14. K. MacNeil The Wine Bible pg 86-87 Workman Publishing 2001 ISBN 1-56305-434-5

    15. Roman L. Weil, Parker v. Prial: The Death of the Vintage Chart

    15. J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition pg 727 Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0-19-860990-6

    This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Classification_of_wine", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.